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Napolitano clarifies status of same-sex relationships in immigration

There are many people from other countries currently living in the state of Florida on a temporary basis who would like to make it permanent. As they are likely aware there are many ways in which to pursue this. Many of these avenues are complicated however with a multitude of conditions that must be met. As individuals who are in the U.S. without documentation attempt to navigate the immigration system, they may be the subject of a deportation proceeding.

One of the factors that is taken into consideration in many matters related to immigration are family relationships that exist with residents of the U.S. But just what constitutes a family relationship for immigration purposes? While some of the relationships are obvious, such as those where a traditional marriage is involved, until recently, it was unclear how same-sex couples fit in.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has clarified that question. She recently told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that it needs to provide the field with written guidelines that instruct that "family relationships" in fact include same-sex couples. Individuals who are a part of one of these relationships but from another country will now not be subjected to deportation. This declaration could have wide ranging effects as there are around 36,000 binational gay couples currently in the country.

The move was at least in part promoted by multiple members of Congress. Earlier this summer they requested some action be taken to make sure same-sex partners from other countries of constituents.

U.S. Immigration laws are in a constant state of flux. Accordingly, anyone who is seeking to change their immigration status would probably benefit from working with an immigration attorney.

Source: NBC News, "US immigration chief: Same-sex ties are family ties," Miranda Leitsinger, Sept. 28, 2012

Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Miami family immigration page.

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